Can danshen treat heart disease?

BACKGROUND: Danshen is one of the most widely used herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In 2010, a patented Chinese product containing danshen became the first TCM herbal remedy to successfully pass Phase II clinical trials under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. The company is also seeking approval for its product through the equivalent European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

The product will now advance to Phase III clinical trials, which could see it become the first TCM herbal product approved as a drug in the US and Europe.

Danshen is the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, also called Chinese sage. In TCM, it is viewed as a key ingredient in herbal mixtures used to improve blood and urine flow. The term danshen can be used for remedies containing only Salvia miltiorrhiza, or for those containing several herbs. The TCM product being evaluated by the FDA is called Compound Danshen Dripping Pill (or Cardiotonic Pill). As the name suggests, it is primarily used for heart problems. The product also contains notoginseng (similar to regular ginseng), ginger, borneol and other spices.

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